GRENDADINE: A 6TH MONTH YEAR OLD WHITEMALEKITTEN BELONGING TO A FAMILY OF WHITE CATS
The room mate in our household who owns Grendadine’s mother, Banjo is moving out and is taking Banjo with her. Banjo is white with one blue and one green eye and one of her babies, Grendadine has green eyes, while his sister has blue eyes and is deaf. White female cats with blue eyes often inherit deafness. Donna, Banjo’s human mother is trying to find good homes for both of these kittens. Grendadine is the most playful of the two and recently jumped on a visitor’s shoulder. His blue-eyed sister has not yet been named. It will probably be best for Grendadine’s owner to keep him indoors for the sake of safety. Grenadine has not yet had his shots or been neutered. Grendadine is very affectionate and will make a great pet for a cat lover. He is also quite beautiful. If you are interested in adopting Grendadine, please call Donna or Elly at (415) 776-9898.
RASCAL: 7 years old, neutered male, yellow Lab, 75 lbs.
Rascal was “surrendered” to us by his owner, who had lost his home to foreclosure. He’s great with other dogs, and he loves people, going for walks, running, and playing Frisbee. He’s good with children and enjoys riding in the car. He has a cute habit of standing on his haunches and gently giving you his front paws. Rascal shouldn’t go to a home with cats, because he tends to chase them.
Our vet has taken care of all Rascal’s vaccinations, removed his dewclaws, and microchipped him. He’d make a wonderful family dog.
If you’re interested in Rascal, please call Donna at Pets to Go—(555) 555-5555.
When I began this class I was a techno skeptic. Part of the reason was the learning curve involved in using new technologies. When someone I know showed me this video on YouTube it instantly struck a nerve:
But another reason is that I equated the use of technology with the idea that big corporations profit from it. The main players in our lives include Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Hewlett Packard. It’s a little challenging to integrate the ideas that libraries of the future will be both humanistic and technologically advanced. And I also think that private companies are organized around different missions than public libraries. But during this class, I began to see another side of technology: the way it appears to have leveled the playing field between big corporations and consumers and its potential to benefit people who are organizing politically. This is the view of technology that I read about in the The Cluetrain Manifesto. It does seem that the library where I work, San Francisco Public, has become a more open and democratic library in the last five years. This could be because of our new director, an expert in team-building, but also because of the leveling effect of everyone communicating on the Internet.
However, I think that librarians will continue to face conflicts between protecting patrons’ privacy and adopting emerging technologies, especially geospatial ones. I experimented with Foursquare which is on my library’s web site. However, when it or they asked me where I was located, I ended the experiment. I draw the line when it comes to providing information about my location to a company, whose motives I don’t know.
Reflecting on the class assignments, I think my favorite ones were reflection blogging and the context book report. While doing research for my blog, I learned about the staff and workplace structure, at SFPL, including the teams that work on issues like literacy and learning and diversity in programming. These teams have formed in the last five years, and I became aware of them by looking at the staff intranet. I am a library page and the pages, for the most part, (I only saw one exception) have not been asked to work on teams.
The primary organization of SFPL is by department and it is very hierarchical. We have four different classes of librarians, three of whom are managerial positions. However, when asking for information from the staff, I was impressed with how open and informative they were. For example, I emailed the person in charge of the library’s digital strategy and talked with him for at least two hours about creating a social media policy and the library’s plan to adopt BiblioCommons. I had a similar experience when researching the library’s programs for disabled patrons and the early literacy space. This open environment might be a result of SFPL’s next generation of public library leaders’ program, whose goal is to foster a collaborative work environment. The staff’s willingness to answer questions might also because they are committed librarians who value sharing information. Learning about the library’s programs through the eyes of the staff was a pleasant surprise.
I might add that I did not find the same kind of willingness to provide information when I contacted BiblioCommons, a private company, about my director’s brief. One person there had a good idea about researching this catalog, since I couldn’t login but he left many questions unanswered. The other librarian who I contacted worked at Evanston Public Library and also provided useful information. These differences in the willingness to share information reinforced my stereotypes about the different priorities of public libraries and private companies.
I graduated from SLIS in 2007 and had become increasingly aware that I was falling behind recent graduates and some librarians in learning about new technologies. I am more conscious, after taking this class, about the ongoing nature of this process. One way to continue it is to take InfoPeople classes or classes about technology at SFPL.
I am not sure about where I will work when I become a librarian. When I began library school, I wanted to work in a government documents department in a public library. I once went to that department at SFPL with a question about whether people who lived near a condominium project which would block their view had any rights to keep their views. The librarian I talked to was very helpful: she brought out a zoning map of my neighborhood which showed that I live in a mixed residential commercial district which meant I had no right to keep my view. I thought that I would like to provide this kind of service to others. I also liked doing reference, when I was an intern at the Marin County Free Library. These experiences have given me clues about the kind of environment in which I would like to work. I also think it’s important to follow your heart when deciding which jobs to seek.
I enjoyed being a part of this online community and sharing blog posts and comments. Perhaps I’ll see some of you in another class at SLIS.
In a recent blog post, Cory Doctorow laments that society has run out of public spaces. “What used to be public squares and parks are now malls.” he says, adding that libraries are one of the few remaining public spaces.
The idea of the library as a commons involves several concepts: In the commons, users are at the center, each person adds more value to the commons and the commons is a place for collaboration. Some libraries have evolved to counteract the fact of disappearing public spaces, using different methods. One of these involves the use of interactive technologies to make the library more like a two-way conversation between users and library staff (Lankes, D. 2007), than a one-way conversation.
In some libraries, technology has given users more opportunities to interact with the library and each other. One of these technologies is Drupal, an open source content management system (CMS) with a large community of users on the internet. While clicking around the Internet in Google it’s easy to find many Drupal groups, meetings, lists, and camps located all over the world. A site called Drupal Groups shows that more than 100 public libraries around the world are using Drupal.
In an article she wrote in 2008, Meredith Farkas extols the virtues of Drupal. She defines Drupal as a program that gives libraries a way to manage web content. Drupal enables librarians to add web content to their sites and create pages which are both static and dynamic, she says. Using Drupal, they can also add different types of content to their site, including blogs, wikis, and forums. Drupal enables librarians to make their web sites more interactive than in the past.
The first library to use Drupal was the Ann Arbor District Library (AADL), in 2005(2008). The AADL Web site gives users the option of adding comments on its homepage.(Casey, M. @ Savistinuk, L.C., 2007). Users can also add comments on its virtual card catalog (2007).
Another library that uses Drupal is the Skokie Public Library. Its homepage has colored, clickable, blocks of content, with subject headings. It also has a link to SkokieNet, an interactive blog about the Skokie, a Chicago suburb.
The organization of SkokieNet provides clues about how Drupal works. Many types of content are integrated on one page. It has a subject directory like Yahoo, and also provides links for users to add different forms of content at the top, including videos and stories. Some content under the subject headings looks more static than interactive, such as information about the Skokie Consumer Affairs Commission under the subject heading “Consumer Affairs.”
Another feature of Drupal is that it allows library staff to moderate content and gives different levels of permission to different users. For example, the library staff gives some Skokie organizations permission to publish their work without moderation, but they moderates input from teens and anonymous users.
Drupal has both pros and cons. It can do more than other CMS, but it has a steeper learning curve (Roehm, F.E, personal communication, April 11, 2013). However, it provides the features that enable interaction between users on this site and other around the world.
Do virtual commons offer the same kind of personal interaction as physical commons? Can technologies like Drupal replace in-person contact? That’s a question for someone who is evaluating libraries of the 20th and 21st century to answer.
About five years ago, a multicolored object with many wooden panels sprang up in the children’s room at San Francisco Public Library (SFPL). While it was built, the chief of children and youth services and the library’s early literacy specialist watched closely. I wondered what it was doing in the library and how much it cost.
I got a clue about its purpose while observing a children’s librarian conduct a story hour, called “baby rhyme time,” for a group of parents and their babies. It took place in the storytelling room, adjacent to the mysterious structure. They started out singing “I’m a little baby, I fly high, Down to the floor and up to the sky.” I noticed the repetition of the sound of words and thought about alliteration in poetry. Could demonstrating the sounds of words be a way to teach babies about language, I wondered.
I went back to the panel. I noticed the many plastic, colored letters and numbers on its walls as well as poems in English, Spanish and Chinese. One I remembered from my childhood: “Wynken, Blynken and Nod one night sailed off in a wooden shoe: sailed off on a river of crystal light, into a sea of dew.” This is a poem about dreaming which was also made into a song:
I wondered if librarians could use songs because they convey sound to teach children how to read and write (Balderas, R. personal communication, 2013). I also noticed other poems on the panel, including the Carl Sandburg poem, beginning with “The fog comes on little cat feet,” and “Twinkle, twinkle, little star.”
One librarian said that during his story hours he tries to promote awareness of print, show children that they see writing in their environment and teach them that print is important (Balderas, R. personal communication, April 13, 2013). His approach to story hours offers some clues about understanding this site.
Next to the letters on the site were words that included letters, such as “B is for bugs and beetles,” next to to a picture of a ladybug. I also noticed that some sentences like “G” is for garden” were next to images of flowers. Placing these letters next to images helps children connect everyday images with words and sentences.
Another feature of this site is called “spin a story,” and teaches children about story structure and narrative skills (Anderson, M., personal communication, April 12, 2013). It has four wheels with categories like “what happened on baby’s birthday;” ‘who came;” “which present/what was inside;”? and “how does baby feel?,” and includes images of these concepts on each wheel.
I also noticed a slide ruler where children can measure their height, next to the sentence, “H is for height.” This ruler provides a way for children to develop their concept of quantity (Diamant-Cohen, B., Prendergast, T., Estrovitz, C., Banks, C., & van der Veen, K., 2012 ). A three dimensional wooden structure, a replica of Lombard Street, the crookedest street in San Francisco, is another feature on this site. A curvy track on each side borders the raised wooden panel and kids can throw wooden balls down it or push them up it, but the balls stay on the track. Words like “back and forth” are written next to the track, so children can connect words with the structure of Lombard Street. Here, children can learn about spatial relation as well as how gravity works.
This play to learn site reflects the library’s early literacy initiative based on the Every Child Ready to Read (ECRR) curriculum that the Public Library Association (PLA) and Association of Library Services for Children (ALSC) launched.(Estrovitz, C. personal communication, April 10, 2013). Every Child Ready to Read began in 2004. The most recently revised Every Child Ready to Read @ your library includes play as a way to learn early literacy skills. Play involves the use of imagination and experimentation rather than memorizing information. (Diamant-Cohen, B. et al 2012). A movement among children’s librarians to advocate play began in part, as a reaction against the No Child Left Behind law, which required teachers to prepare students to take standardized tests, or lose their funding (2012). This philosophy of education seems to have filtered down to some members of the early childhood community (2012).
Early literacy spaces have sprung up in various libraries across the country. The largest one is in the Vancouver (Wash.) Community Library, which opened in 2011 (2012). The Burgeon Group, a Phoenix- based company, created both the early literacy space for San Francisco Public Library and the one for the Vancouver Community Library.
Another way that children learn about language is by interacting with adults about its features (Jeske, Jim, personal communication, April 11, 2013). I watched one afternoon, while a boy who was about four-years old played at the site. He pushed the wooden balls up and down the track next to the model of Lombard Street. He also picked up one of the colored letters, noticed that I was writing, and came over and said the name of the letter. He then asked me to write the letter. He watched, then picked up another letter, and asked me to write it, and this game continued until I had written five or six letters and said that I wanted to stop. I speculated that this boy might be learning to read or write. Later that day, I noticed several children, who kept pushing the ball up and down the curved tracks on the model of Lombard Street, as if it was a never ending game.
According to Diamont-Cohen, B. et al, “Since play is truly how children learn, the time is ripe to explore how that play relates to collections, programs, space and how play can be integrated into the library” (p. 10).
I read an article in the San Francisco Chronicle about the new teen center which the San Francisco Public Library is planning. It will have multimedia equipment and mentors and is modeled after the Youmedia teen center at the Chicago Public Library. The teen librarians in the cubicles next to where I work in the children’s department are very enthusiastic about this center. Many teens use social media according to a Pew internet study. It says that 95% of teens between 12-17 are online and 80% use social media. I thought that because teens are frequent users of social media, and the library is planning to increase its use of these networks that writing a guide to policy for teens was a good plan.
I began to plan my research for this guide. I first contacted some of the teen librarians. I also contacted a children’s librarian familiar with social media. I then contacted the librarian in charge of digital strategy at SFPL. The following are the contacts I made:
(Collins, J. personal communication, March 22, 2013) ( Davidson, C.L.personal communication, March 23, 2013). (Hannan, E., personal communication, March 22, 2013) (Hannan, E. personal communication, March 23, 2013), Hannan, E., personal communication, March 26, 2013), (Worona, J., personal communication March 25), (Worona, J. personal communication, March 26, 2013). (Worona, J., personal communication March 27, 2012), (Worona J. personal communication, March 28, 2013).
I discovered more examples of these policies such as one from the Monterey County Free Library (MCFL). This policy is current, has some useful ideas, but had a rule against people discussing politics on social networking sites, which appears to violate the First Amendment.
Other sources I used included the the Young Library Services Association (Yalsa) Toolkit, which had information about how librarians can work with teens, to write social media policies, and a book called Teens, Libraries and Social Networking: what Librarians Need to Know which had many useful references.
I also found the article from the class readings, called “The Need for Student Social Media Policies.” to be useful because it described the purpose of social media policies and how to write them.
However, it seemed that there was a dilemma in the information on SFPL’s web site, including The Library Bill of Rights which says that libraries should challenge censorship, and the information I got through interviewing one librarian who said that the public affairs department at SFPL deletes posts that are “off topic.” The challenge in writing this policy was to balance the language in the library’s policy against censorship with the library staffs’ practices in monitoring social networking sites.
A Committee at the San Francisco Public Library is part of the library’s continuing effort to expand the reach of the library beyond its walls. This Committee, called 50+ began several years ago and its goal is to serve library users that are over 50, as well as the blind, the deaf, patrons with physical disabilities and home bound patrons.
The committee’s efforts are relevant to the needs of San Francisco’s citizens. Almost a third of San Franciscans are over 50-years old and over one third of people in San Francisco over 65 are disabled. This group is working on several fronts to increase these users’ access to the library.
Resources For the Blind:
One of its goals is to increase the number of resources in the Library for the Blind and Print Disabled (LPBD). This library serves about 700 users, says Jane Glasby, a librarian and the program manager for the LBPD. This library has a magnified catalog interface: (for a miniature view, see the image above).
This library also has several technologies for blind people, including video magnifiers, text-to-speech readers and internet computers with large print keyboards, she says. It also has reference resources like talking dictionaries: (see the image below). In addition, The LBPD has held yoga classes for blind people for almost a year.
Resources For the Deaf:
The Deaf Service Center is located on the first floor of the main library and has information about hearing loss and sign language as well as staff who speak sign language. This library also made a video called “Deaf Culture an American Perspective” and has resources on deaf culture going back to the 1960’s. Its web site also lists classes from Bay Area colleges about sign language and deaf culture.
This class started about three years ago, and 124 people showed up for the first class, says Cora McGovern, another librarian from the LBPD. The teacher has a video on her blog from YouTube with a study about how elderly nuns stay mentally alert.
Improving Physical Access to the Library:
More than 100 volunteers help seniors with mobility problems move around the library, says Kai Wilson Forsley, the volunteer programs coordinator for SFPL. In the new fiscal year, the library will also buy “rollators” or wheeled walkers which patrons can use to browse the stacks and move around the library, says Marti Goddard, the library’s access service manager.
Transporting the Library to Patrons:
SFPL has several ways to bring its collections to people with limited mobility, including the library on wheels, (LOW) a bookmobile for seniors or people with mobility problems, says Amy Perry, a librarian with SFPL’s mobile outreach services. LOW has a range of materials, including fiction and non-fiction, large print books and books in other languages, movies and music, she says. “We do everything a brick and mortar library does except handling fines or offering computer access,” says Perry. Some active people also use LOW because its convenient, says Goddard.
A Broader Role for Librarians:
Other outreach services for patrons include Friends for Life (FFL) and Books by Mail (BBM). Currently 80 library customers use these programs, says Cora McGovern, a librarian with the Library for the Blind and Print Disabled. These patrons include people with mobility disabilities due to age, injury or medical conditions, and debilitating treatments for illnesses such as cancer, says Goddard.
Getting to know these patrons is both a blessing and a curse, says McGovern. “Selecting reading materials for someone can be quite intimate,” she says. “You have to learn what would please them and keep an eye out for new titles and authors they might like. Many home bound folks are in such poor health, frail or isolated. You send them articles and books that keep them informed about their conditions — if they share that information with you. If they are in a rut, you send them something that will make them laugh or keep them engaged. …You help them with phone numbers and forms and tell them about services that might make their lives easier.” (You) “check in on them if they haven’t been in touch to make sure they are alright and see if they would like anything to read. Even if they don’t want anything from the library, it makes them feel better that someone cares enough to check on them. Every time one of them dies, it hurts. But I remember that their lives were better for having participated in this program,” she says.
Another goal of the 50+ committee is to create a database for users in these populations, which resembles one that the city of San Francisco has. It would contain resources, contacts, and event calendars, including trainings, classes and programs.
San Francisco Public is becoming a more transparent organization than it was a decade ago. But ironically, its structure is both transparent and bureaucratic..
In his article called “Participatory Networks, The Library as Conversation” David Lankes says that libraries are in the conversation business ( Lankes, D.R., Silverstein, J. Nicholson, S. &Marshall T. 2007, p. 2) While his article describes a participatory model of libraries, “transparent” and “participatory” are closely related terms. According to Lankes, a participatory library is one that furthers a conversation between its users and the library ( p. 4). The library is both a participant in and facilitator of conversations (p. 5). On the contrary, he says that key structures in the library, such as the catalog, are often “one-way conversations”(p. 5). A participatory library has features which promote interactions and communications between users and the library, including wikis and blogs.(p. 6-8).
Casey and Stephens describe a concept similar to Lankes’s (Casey, M. & Stephens, M. 2007, p. 2.) They say, “the transparent library establishes ways that our users to talk to us and among themselves with tools like blogs and wikis, community open houses, outreach events and surveys”(p. 2). The shape of SFPL as an organization is that of a . At the top of this pyramid is the library commission, a seven member body that the mayor of San Francisco appoints. “The Commission sets policy and is responsible for the library budget..” according to an email from Sue A. Blackman, the Library Commission Secretary. The commissioners or library staff initiates policies, she says and it takes a majority of commissioners to approve each policy. .
The organization of SFPL like many large, urban public libraries, is closely tied to city politics, which might explain the type of discourse that occurs at its meetings. Seventeen years ago, people packed the hearings to protest the massive weeding of library books when the main opened a new building. About ten years ago, the library employees union and the librarian’s guild organized the library pages to protest the administration’s plan to fire 15 hour pages and demote 20 hour pages to 15 hour employees without health insurance.
Perhaps its close connection with city politics angers some library users. At least two individuals regularly attend commission meetings and denounce the commission. At one recent meeting these users said the commissioners were corrupt to be reelecting the current president of the commission who was cited by the City Ethics Commission for shouting down a member of the public who was challenging the commission. At another recent meeting, a branch librarian said that the deputy city librarian’s plan to expand hours at the branches was unrealistic and would erode the quality of branch library service. Another member of the public, a teen librarian’s daughter, spoke in favor of opening a new teen center at the main library.
Though sometimes angry, the dialog at the commission is open and transparent. Public comments take place during the first part of the meeting. Audio files of these hearings go back almost two years and meeting minutes go back 12 years and are posted on the library’s web site. A local cable television also broadcasts them. The atmosphere at the commission shows that the conversation between members of the community and the library’s governing body is transparent.
For the first time, last week, I observed on the library’s intranet that the library is composed of a variety of teams, task forces, and committees. I saw a team based structure which differed from the horizontal organization of the workplace, as I know it. The focus of many of these groups is the needs of local library users.These groups include the “Literacy and Learning Area Focus Team.” A goal of this team is to “Provide nimble responsiveness to changes in formalized education that affect our users; and support for literacy needs of residents, regardless of educational level.” Another team is called the “Diversity in Programming Steering Group.” This team’s mission is to create “a balance of programs, exhibits, and outreach to all age groups and communities, system-wide.” Another team is the 50+ services to adults and seniors. It’s goal is to engage in outreach to and programming for the “growing population of active older adults (50+) and isolated senior citizens in San Francisco. Another group is the Digital Media and Learning Task Force. One goal of this group is to create a design for a new teen learning lab at the main library. Yet another group is the adult large print committee which selects large print books for branches.
These staff organizations are focused on meeting the needs of library users from different communities, backgrounds, and age groups. They are similar to what Lankes calls “participatory networks”(p.1). Their existence suggests that the library is trying to engage in a conversation with the surrounding community, and suggest that SFPL is both participatory and transparent.
Another quality of the transparent library is that it provides ways for users to talk to the library and among themselves using blogs, wikis, outreach events and surveys (Casey, M. & Stephens, M. 2007 p. 2). SFPL has all these avenues for interaction between staff and users, except wikis. The twitter page reflects a one way conversation with tweets the library staff about upcoming events. However the Facebook page includes a conversation between library pages and users about book carts and card catalogs. SFPL also has a page of a dozen blogs from different departments and branches. These include a blog from the Chinatown Branch, primarily in Chinese, and a blog from the book arts and history department with historical photographs of San Francisco. While these blogs contain messages mostly from library staff to users, they have spaces for comments.
Another characteristic of the transparent library is that its staff is open to anonymous feedback.SFPL has a user survey its web site which users can take without revealing their identity.
Another quality of the transparent library is that it measures the usage of the technologies on its web site ( Casey, M. & Stephens, M. 2008 p. 2). SFPL counts the number of patrons who visit its web site says Stephen McLaughlin, a librarian who gathers statistics for the library. The library also gets statistics from vendors about the number of searches patrons do in different databases, he says. “I know that data on web hits it used in tweaking the SFPL web pages and that data on the use of the online subscription databases is one of the factors used in deciding to keep or cancel individual databases,” he says.
A teen librarian weighed in on the question of how transparent SFPL is: “I would say SFPL is definitely becoming more transparent,” she writes in an email. She is one of the librarians who is planning the new teen center. Teens are involved in designing this new space and the library is paying these teens who are part of the project, she says. User participation in the planning of services is another sign that a library is transparent.
Now for the note of irony that affects the question of whether SFPL is open and transparent or closed and opaque. The structure of the workplace at SFPL is hierarchical and people who work there have distinct roles defined by San Francisco’s civil service commission. These roles are rigid and involve following rules that are set by the people at the top of the organization. The library commission which the mayor appoints is at the top of this organization, followed by the city librarian, librarians fours, threes, twos and ones, technical assistants, library assistants and library pages This kind of organizational structure, is opposite to the structure of a library which is flexible and transparent.
Wikis in public libraries are one of the rapidly changing structures on the Internet. One definition of a wiki is a Web site that lets users “easily edit and add content”( Casey M.E. and Savastinuk, L.C., 2007, p. 86). Wikis allow people in communities to share information (p. 86). “Wikis also provide for a clear revision history. This means that every time a wiki entry is changed, that change is recorded and the previous version is archived, creating an electronic paper trail”(p. 86).
Wikis are a great resource for collecting local information, says Meridith Farkas. (2008 p. 50). She describes several wikis that public libraries created in 2008. They include The Stevens County Rural Library District wiki, in Washington state, the Loudoun County wiki in Loudoun County, Virginia, and SkokieNet, in the Skokie Public Library in Skokie, Illinois. I researched these wikis using the Wayback Machine, a web site that archives the history of Internet sites. The wiki for the Stevens County Rural District no longer exists and is not archived by the Wayback Machine. This web site disappeared due to technical problems. “The wiki was being hosted by a local web hosting company on their servers — one day it was there and the next it was gone,…it could have been a virus or hardware failure,” says Krista Ohrtman, Library Manager for the Libraries of Stevens County/Coville Public Library in an email. Five years later, the wiki for the Loudoun County Public Library is also gone. The reason that LoundounPedia is no longer active is that the Loudoun County Information Technology Department wanted it removed and the library director asked him to dismantle it, says Brett Mason, the librarian who created it, in an email. However, he says “I have the entire Wiki saved and ready to be resurrected at a later date.” The Wayback Machine archived this wiki. But of these three wikis, the only one that is active is SkokieNet.
Librarians organized Skokie Net, by subject and format. A menu bar at the top of the site has links to add content, including text, audios, videos, and images. People can create audio or video files then upload them to a site like You Tube and use the “embed” code on You Tube for that particular video and add them to SkokieNet, says Frances Roehm, the SkokieNet Librarian/Community Liaison, in an email. A vertical column on the right side of this site also has links to “topics,” “communities,” and “Skokie Blogs.” Under topics are links to subjects like “consumer information.”
When I accessed this site for the first time I added a story to the text link, titled “add your story” because during the 1960’s I lived in Evanston, a neighboring suburb of Chicago. By looking at SkokieNet, I noticed that the ethnic makeup of Skokie had greatly changed since the time I lived there. During the middle of the 1960’s, “40% of the population was Jewish, the largest percent of any Chicago suburb,” according to Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia. During the 1980″s, people from other parts of the world emigrated to Skokie, she says.
The history of Skokie includes an events that newspapers across the country covered. In 1977, the leader of the National Socialist (Nazi) Party of America declared that the Nazis planned to march in Skokie. During that time, about one out of six people in Skokie were Holacaust survivors. An Illinois circuit court issued an order stopping the Nazis from wearing their uniforms or carrying swastikas. The Illinois Court of Appeals and Supreme Courts refused to overturn this injunction. With the support of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) the Nazis appealed to the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court reversed the lower courts’ decisions. However, the Nazis never held their march. SkokieNet covers this controversy and an array of other historical events about Skokie.
The Skokie Public Library started this wiki in 2006, says Roehm. Several Staff members maintain the wiki, including herself, their career librarian, a SkokieNet assistant, and several staff members who contribute stories, says Roehm. The librarians used Drupal, a software program, to create the site. They also work with a Drupal consultant. The staff talks about features of the site that are working and what needs to be eliminated or upgraded. Currently, they are working with a Drupal consultant to upgrade the site and are trying to improve its features for displaying search results.
The SkokieNet librarians have rules about how people add information to the site. “People can use as much space as they want to add information,” says Roehm. However, the librarians in charge moderate most of these posts, she says.”Anyone who adds information anonymously, or is a registered user, or is not an adult will have his or her information moderated,” she says. One exception are trusted community partners. They are adults from organizations or businesses who the librarians are familiar with.
Some features of SkokieNet differ from the model of wikis that Casey and Savastinuk describe in Library 2.0. (2007, p. 86). In this book they say that wikis allow each user to edit, add content, and see a revision history. However, users who add information to SkokieNet cannot edit information that other users have posted or see a revision history, says Roehm.
Both Roehm and Mason agree that wikis are useful for public libraries to provide access to local information. “The wiki makes it possible for anyone, including members of the seventy plus different ethnic communities to share information,” says Roehm. Mason adds that LoudounPeida was “geographically based.” However, other librarians say that researchers using wikisshould use some caution (Ginsberg, 2006 p.8). Sources like Wikipedia or other wikis do not withstand the kind of scrutiny which librarians use to evaluate other reference sources (p. 8).
Another issue to consider in evaluating how useful wikis are in public libraries is whether they create a more participatory environment. LoudounPedia was one of the top 10 databases people used at the Loudoun County Library, says Mason. This statistic seems to illustrate that many library users found searching the wiki to be useful. “SkokieNet has created….good will and made great friends out in the community,” says Roehm. From the standpoint of these librarians, wikis in public libraries are a way to attract patrons to the library.
Casey, M.E. & Savastinuk, L.C. (2007). Library 2.0: A Guide to Participatory Library Service. Medford, New Jersey. Information Today, Inc.
Farkas, M. (2008). Technology Goes Local. American Libraries, 39 (8), 50
Ginsberg, D. (2006). A Wiki Wiki (Quick) Introduction. AALL Spectrum, July, p. 8-10.